Fiji welcomes U.S. decision to allow Fijians to apply for seasonal employment

09:39, January 19, 2011      

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Fiji's Labor Ministry has welcomed the decision by the U.S. government to include Fijians in the list of countries that can apply for seasonal work, The Fiji Times Online reported Wednesday.

This is a good opportunity for Fiji citizens to find seasonal employment in the United States, Labour Minister Filipe Bole was quoted as saying.

The fact that Fiji was part of the list showed the strong relationship between the governments of the United States and Fiji, Bole added.

The U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services released a revised list of all the countries that were eligible to work in the United States under seasonal agricultural and non- agricultural sectors.

Fifty-three countries can apply for the temporary guest worker visas known as H2A (temporary agricultural workers) and H2B (temporary non-agricultural workers). Of the 53 countries, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu were newcomers.

The scheme means locals will earn money to improve the standard of living of their families back in Fiji as unemployment in the island nation is quite rife following the 2006 military coup.

Fiji was one of the top 10 remittance recipients in 2007 in the East Asia and Pacific region, when the island nation was estimated to have received 247 million Fiji dollars (165 million U.S. dollars) in inward remittances.

However, a seasonal workers scheme in New Zealand had excluded Fiji following the 2006 event and this meant lost opportunities for unskilled laborers that used to travel consistently to pick fruits.

Source: Xinhua

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